Andy was mesmerized as she watched Joaquín perform. He had disdained the period dress code and was wearing his signature black skin tight leggings, black heels and full-length black coat, open to reveal his naked torso underneath. Halfway through his baile he tossed his coat to the side of the dance floor and Andy heard Nigel let out a sigh beside her. She glanced at him and smiled at his enraptured expression. As the performance came to an end, she leaned over and whispered in his ear over the sound of the applause, "Don't you just love that hot gypsy blood?"
Nigel didn't reply as he watched the dancer take his bows and then leave the dance floor. Andy noticed the discarded coat lying nearby and she snatched it up and handed it to him. "Here, why don't you go give him his coat back?"
Nigel looked at her. "And what will you do?"
"Mingle," she said. When he didn't move or reply, she rolled her eyes. "I promise you, I'm having a great time. Go."
He took the coat and draped it over his arm and after bowing gallantly to her, headed off in the direction Joaquín had disappeared. She smiled and wished him luck and then grabbed another flute of champagne from a passing waiter.
Andy watched as Irv's next performer took the stage. By now she wasn't surprised to see another famous artist, this one a classical guitarist. Andy listened for a few minutes until she noticed someone looking at her from across the room. Not just any look, but a heated look she could feel run through her body just from its intensity.
At first she thought it was a man, but a moment later Andy noticed the feminine curves of a woman. She was simply dressed in black slacks, vest and cape. A white shirt and a red sash added color, as did the flash of gold decorating the four-inch heels on a mouth-watering pair of Jimmy Choo boots. She couldn't make out any details of the woman's face from this distance, especially with the disguising mask, but from what Andy could tell, she was very attractive. Andy grinned. Judging from the way the woman was looking at her, she found Andy just as attractive.
Andy was starting to feel a little warm under the gaze. Glancing around, she noticed that the ballroom opened out onto a balcony. She caught the woman's eyes again and gave her a slow smile before turning and heading for the balcony. With a thrill, she wondered if the woman would follow her. Andy felt like she was making the opening move in some kind of game. She didn't look back to see if the woman would play along.
Andy was enchanted by the view from the balcony, which opened out onto Central Park. The balcony was dark, but the lights from the city gave it a romantic glow. It was a beautiful New York evening and although she couldn't see any stars, the sky was clear and the air warm despite it being mid-autumn. She hadn't lived in New York long enough to know for sure, but she guessed evenings this perfect were rare.
As she leaned against the stone balustrade, she heard the sound of footsteps behind her. She smiled and slowly turned around. When she saw the figure there, she gasped in surprise.
"Expecting someone else, my dear?" Irv Ravitz asked as he joined her at the railing.
"Mr. Ravitz, yes…I mean…"
"Please, Andy. I said Irv," he said.
"All right," Andy said and glanced toward the balcony doors, disappointed that the strange woman hadn't joined her.
"Are you enjoying yourself?" he asked.
"Yes, thank you for inviting me," Andy said.
"It was my pleasure, my dear," he said with a shark-like smile. Andy started to get a really bad feeling. "Marie was impressed with your historical knowledge. So was I."
"Oh well, that was nothing," Andy said. "It's funny how you remember things from those courses you have to take rather than want to take. Stuff just kinda sticks whether you mean it to or not." She glanced at the open doorway and wondered how quickly she could get away before either of them embarrassed themselves.
"Oh yes," he said. He moved closer and put a hand on her arm. Apparently she hadn't gotten away quickly enough, Andy thought as she moved her arm. "Still, you're pretty sharp…a lot sharper than most of Miranda's girls. Maybe I can help you move up that ladder? There's a lot I can do for you, Andy."
Okay seriously, was that the best he could do? Andy had professors in college who made better passes. She wanted to laugh at him, but decided on discretion. "That's a kind offer, Mr. Rav…I mean Irv," Andy said. "I'm very happy with Miranda, but I'll get in touch with you if I ever need a letter of recommendation or something."
"There's a lot more I can do for you than just a letter, Andy," he said.
Andy decided it was time to end this. "I'm sure, but let's talk about it later. Right now I'm here with someone and I really should go find them."
Irv gave that hearty laugh that Andy was quickly coming to despise. "Yes, sweet Nigel," he said. "Don't worry about him, my dear. I'm sure he doesn't need you, you're not his type. You have certain…assets…he doesn't appreciate like I do."
"No, really," Andy insisted and contemplated whether to lie to him or smack him. She decided a fib would at least save her job for the moment. "I'm meeting someone here…a date. Your invitation did say I could bring one."
Irv's eyes narrowed in displeasure. "Yes, that it did. However, for some reason I don't believe you, my dear."
Andy decided she didn't care if this rich and powerful asshole who signed her paychecks could get her blackballed from every publication in New York, she wasn't going to take this crap from anyone and she opened her mouth to let him know that when she heard the noise of someone clearing their throat.
Both of them turned and Andy's heart jumped to see the mysterious woman in black standing in the doorway looking at her.
"Lo siento que soy atrasado, mi amor," the woman said softly and then added in heavily accented English. "You will forgive me, por favor?"
"Of course," Andy replied. "You can't help that you're late. I'm glad you're here now."
Irv's eyes narrowed as he looked at the woman in the dim light of the balcony. By then she had joined Andy at the railing and taken her arm in a possessive manner. Andy's heart thrilled at the touch.
"Señor Ravitz," the woman said. "Thank you for inviting us to your home. It was most generous of you."
"Not at all, Señora…"
"Máscara," she replied. Andy just barely repressed a bark of laughter. She doubted Irv knew the name simply meant 'mask' in Spanish. She glanced at the woman out of the side of her eyes and realized with a thrill that the other was indeed playing along – not only in their ruse to circumvent Irv, but also as a part of their own private game.
"Señora Máscara," Irv said. "A pleasure, I'm sure. You know Andy from her time in Spain?"
"Indeed," she replied and didn't elaborate further.
Andy bit back a smirk as Irv seemed out of sorts. He simply stood there in his ridiculous costume and then finally shrugged. "Well, I should go find Marie. Enjoy your evening, ladies."
"We will," Andy promised and breathed a sigh of relief as he finally left. She turned to the woman and said, "Thanks for the save. I was about to belt him."
"I would not have blamed you in the least," she replied.
Andy tried to get a closer look, but the darkness hid the woman's features well. "Máscara?" she asked. "Is that really your name or did you say that just because you're wearing one?"
"Does it matter?" the woman asked.
Andy shrugged. "I suppose not. At least, not tonight."
"No," Máscara said softly. "Tonight is for pleasure and the enjoyment of beauty."
"All right," Andy agreed and took Máscara's hand in hers. It was smooth and warm, but Andy could tell it was the hand of an older woman. "You remind me of someone."
Andy shrugged. "Someone I work with. Someone I'd like to be closer to, but can't."
"Why not?" Máscara asked.
Letting go of Máscara's hand, Andy turned to look at the park. "It's someone I work for," she emphasized, a blush rising in her face. "It's not a good idea to get involved with professional superiors, especially her."
"You care for her?"
Andy nodded. "Yes, I…I do, more than I should." She turned and looked at Máscara and tried to make out her features in the dim light. With the mask and the hat, the only thing she could see were the bright blue eyes shining at her. Andy couldn't read the expression in Máscara's eyes, but they intrigued her with their familiarity. "In any case, she's not here and it'll never happen anyway. She'd never want me and even if she did, it couldn't happen because of work." Andy paused. "I'm sorry, that's probably not something you want to hear."
"It doesn't matter," Máscara said, waving off the apology. "What if tonight – just for tonight – you forget about work? You can be the beautiful Spanish señorita and I can be the gallant caballera who has admired you from afar for a long time." Andy felt herself being turned around and then enveloped in Máscara's arms. Andy's heart thumped pleasantly in her chest. "Tonight, I give you permission to forget who I am." Andy tried to grasp on to that last bit because she was pretty sure she was missing something there, but the feel of Máscara's lips on hers made all rational thought crash to a halt.
Andy's heart pounded as Máscara's kiss sent jolts through her body, the other woman's tongue exploring her mouth like she was a treasure found. Andy's hands wandered upward until they were cupping Máscara's neck. Andy loved the feel of the woman's hair tickling her fingers. After endless moments she pulled away with a gasp. "Not…not here," she breathed, pushing away from the other woman on weak legs. Wow, what a kiss!
Máscara looked confused.
"Not here in Irv Ravitz's house," Andy chuckled. "Where I was sexually harassed not more than ten minutes ago."
The woman nodded and Andy was thrilled to see that she was as flustered as Andy was. "I…um, I have a driver, do you want to…?" She pulled her cell from the reticule.
Máscara silently nodded again and Andy made a quick call to Roy. Máscara led the way through the darkened ballroom – Andy noted that the dancing had begun – and by the time Andy had collected her Valentino wrap the car was waiting for them. Máscara guided Andy swiftly past the waiting paparazzi and into the car. With her heart pounding in her chest, she asked Roy to take them to her apartment.
Fidgeting and trying to look anywhere other than at Máscara, a nervous Andy tried to make small talk. "I like the accent," she said. "Andalusian?" She glanced quickly at the other woman.
Máscara's lip curled up in amusement. "Sí," she murmured drolly.
"Great, that's really…" Andy tapered off, feeling like an idiot. She looked out the window. What the hell was she doing, inviting a stranger home? A stranger so much like the one she really wanted, but couldn't have. Would it be so wrong to do as Nigel and even Máscara said and live for the now?
Andy looked at Máscara. As their eyes met, Andy opened her mouth to say this was maybe a bad idea. Before she could speak, Máscara slid across the seat and kissed her again. Andy gave a passing thought to what Roy might think, but once again gave up rational thought when she felt Máscara's tongue against her own.
The trip to Andy's apartment went by quickly in an endless succession of kisses. By then, Andy's hands were trying to make their way under Máscara's blouse, but her efforts were hampered by the sash. She was about to rip it off in her frustration when she heard Roy clear his throat and she looked up in confusion, suddenly remembering where they were. Máscara quickly got out of the car. Andy opened her door, but paused and said to Roy, "Um, Nigel's still at the party…at least I think he is, can you…"
"Got it covered," he said, his eyes sparkling in the mirror. "Enjoy your evening, Andy."
"Uh, yeah…thanks," she said and Máscara practically yanked her out of the car. "G'night!" she squeaked. Máscara slammed the car door shut and waited while Andy fumbled with the keys to the building's front door. Upstairs she embraced Andy from behind and nibbled on her neck. Andy tried but couldn't manage to fit the key into the lock, not with Máscara's hot tongue trailing wetly along her neck. She could feel her nipples contracting at the touch of Máscara's hot breath on her skin and that caused her to nearly drop them altogether.
Máscara finally grabbed the key ring from Andy's hand and jammed the key into the lock with impeccable accuracy. "Not so difficult, is it?"
"God!" Andy giggled. "Impatient?"
"Yes!" Máscara growled, her voice hoarse with lust. She made an approving sound as Andy swung the door open.
Máscara followed Andy into the dark apartment and the moment Andy had the door locked, she had Andy pressed up against it. Andy felt the heat of Máscara's body through the fabric of their clothing and that served to remind her of Nigel's admonition.
"Wait," she cried, pulling back.
Máscara rumbled deep in her throat and in the darkness Andy saw her eyes flare in frustration.
"Sorry, but this dress…it's special, I can't…I don't want to ruin it."
Máscara ran her hands over the snug midriff of the dress, her fingers nearly brushing Andy's sensitive breasts. Máscara leaned in for another passionate kiss and pressed in even closer, crushing the frills and ruffles of the heirloom dress between them, and as Andy clutched harder to Máscara, she forgot about everything except this incredible woman. When Máscara finally pulled her lips away, Andy looked at her shadowy form in confusion.
"What?" she rasped.
"¿La cama, mí amor?" Máscara whispered and Andy thought she might swoon. God, put her in a period dress and she turns into a simpering fool. However, with Máscara nibbling again at her neck she really didn't care at this moment so she took Máscara's hand and led her to the bed, kicking off her heels as she went.
Andy pushed Máscara's hat and mask off, wishing she had left a light on so she could finally see the other woman's face, but decided in that moment she didn't want to ruin the fantasy. Besides, with Máscara's hands working at the dress's fastenings and Máscara's breath brushing hotly against her skin, she really didn't want to take the time to turn a light on. Not when Máscara was pushing the dress from her shoulders and Máscara's hot mouth was moving wetly from one breast to the other and she was pressing her long firm body against Andy's as her dress fell to a pool on the floor.
"Oh yes," Andy whispered, clutching to Máscara as they embraced. "Please, I want to…I want…"
"Yes," Máscara murmured. Finally given permission, Andy clawed at the sash until it unraveled to the floor and then hurriedly undid the ivory buttons on Máscara's shirt. She slipped the garment off of Máscara's shoulders and her hands trembled as she finally felt the warm flesh underneath. Andy ran her hands up Máscara's sides until she felt the silky lace of her bra. She cupped Máscara's breasts through the thin fabric and nearly swooned again at the sound of Máscara's gasp.
"Oh that's…that's perfect," Andy whispered. "You're perfect." She found her own undergarments quickly stripped by Máscara's nimble fingers and she grabbed at Máscara's clothing. "Off. Now, please."
"Who's impatient now?" Máscara chuckled. Andy didn't argue since she was too busy unfastening Máscara's trousers. She pushed until Máscara sat on the bed and then she quickly kneeled to strip Máscara's legs. She struggled briefly with the Jimmy Choos and reflected that Máscara certainly was fashionable at least, not that Andy cared about that right at this moment, not when the smooth and warm calves hidden under the boots felt so divine under her hands.
When she joined Máscara on the bed, she was delighted at the feel of hot naked flesh against her own. She moaned and rolled them both over until she was lying on top. Máscara reached for Andy, but Andy pulled away and, rising up on her arms, looked down at the shadowy figure beneath her. In the darkness, she could almost believe it was Miranda with her.
"What is it?" Máscara whispered caressing Andy's face.
"You feel so beautiful," Andy said. Then she leaned down to kiss the amazing woman in her bed.
It had been a while since she had made love with someone, and even longer since she had been with a woman. Andy was nearly overwhelmed at the passion Máscara made her feel. The other woman touched her so tenderly that Andy felt like her body was on fire. She worshipped Máscara's breasts with her mouth and when Máscara's legs parted enough for Andy to slip her thigh between them, she thought she would burn with the heat emanating from where they met. Andy returned to Máscara's lips, feeling as if she could spend the rest of her life kissing this woman.
Andy felt the sweat between them start to build which eased the way as Máscara started to rock her hips against Andy's upper thigh. Andy kept kissing Máscara, her tongue exploring the other woman's depths. Máscara's hands moved down Andy's back until they were cupping the cheeks of her ass. She shifted them both until her own thigh was pressed up against Andy and then they were moving together.
Andy mouthed over Máscara's face, tasting her skin. "Oh god, that feels so good," she breathed into Máscara's ear. "You feel so good."
"Yes," Máscara whispered back, clutching to Andy even harder. "Faster!"
"God, bossy much?" Andy whispered.
Máscara turned her head and grabbed Andy's earlobe between her teeth, giving it a painful bite before letting go. "I said, faster!"
Andy moved against Máscara, rebelliously refusing to comply with the demand. "You're not my boss," she said. Her body did not agree with that since it had wholeheartedly bought into the illusion that she was with Miranda. "You don't get to tell me what to do."
"Oh no?" Máscara whispered. "And if your superior were here, would you do what she told you?"
"No," Andy said and ground herself harder against Máscara. Oh god, that felt good. "Not…not here. Not in bed." She nearly choked out the last.
"Then what would you want to do with her?"
Andy recognized something in Máscara's tone. God, she even sounded like Miranda. The wetness flowing from her onto Máscara's thigh increased and she slid more easily. "God, everything. I'd do everything I've ever fantasized about."
"Tell me," Máscara demanded. "Tell me what you would do."
"Everything," Andy said uselessly again. She didn't want this to end so soon even though it felt so incredibly wonderful and she could tell that Máscara was close too. She stopped moving. "But first…first I'd want to taste you."
"Do it," Máscara ordered. "Taste me."
Andy returned to Máscara's lips and passionately kissed her, wishing for just a moment that she was kissing Miranda instead.
"Okay." Andy grinned against Máscara's mouth. "But only because you asked so nicely." She moved her way down the wonderful body underneath her and placed a kiss on Máscara's firm stomach.
Máscara's legs opened for her and when Andy reached the soft hair, she nuzzled with her nose, enjoying the smell. God, she had missed this. As she moved her tongue along Máscara's damp slit, she felt Máscara arch into her. With a groan, Andy dove in head first and found herself drowning.
Máscara's thighs tightened against Andy and she let out a long and drawn out "Ohhh!"
Andy pressed closer and using her hands, she spread Máscara wider so she could slip two fingers inside. Máscara moaned again and, encouraged, Andy began to move them in and out until she matched their rhythm with that of her tongue against Máscara's body. Andy slowly increased the rhythm until she felt Máscara begin to shudder around her. She wrapped her lips around Máscara's clit and sucked hard while Máscara arched off the bed and came with a hoarse cry.
Andy gently licked Máscara's now swollen skin while the other woman got her breath under control. Finally she sat up and pulled Andy into her lap. Andy wrapped her legs around Máscara and thrilled as their breasts pressed together and then their lips in a heated kiss.
"So beautiful," Máscara whispered. "Quiero hacerte el amor."
"God, yes," Andy whispered. "I want you to."
"Yes," Máscara echoed and moved her hand between Andy's legs.
At Máscara's first touch against her wet center, Andy cried out. Máscara seemed to know just what to do and although Andy wanted to prolong the pleasure, she felt herself rushing quickly toward orgasm. She gripped Máscara harder as she tipped over the edge with a ragged cry.
"Don't stop," she growled and reached her hand to touch Máscara just like she was touching Andy. Máscara groaned at the contact and Andy was careful to keep her fingers to the side of Máscara's tender clit as she rubbed. Máscara used her free hand to pull Andy into a scorching kiss, their panting breaths mixing together. Andy felt her body again speeding to completion and she cried in Máscara's ear, "Come with me…come with me, now."
The words seemed to trigger Máscara and a second later Andy felt them both coming together. She squeezed her legs tighter around Máscara's waist and held on as they both rode out the experience.
"Oh god," Andy whispered. "Oh god, that's…so so good."
"Mmm," Máscara agreed.
Andy cupped Máscara's face and kissed her again and again with a series of light exploratory kisses. She moved from Máscara's mouth to her cheeks and finally made her way up Máscara's nose, pressing a delicate kiss on the small bump she discovered there. Andy smiled; Miranda has a bump on her nose just like that. It was a slight imperfection that only served to heighten Miranda's perfection.
Andy paused. What?
Máscara hugged Andy closer and sighed a single word, "Andrea."
Andy froze. There was only one person who ever said her name that way. Oh god.
"Miranda?" she whispered.
Máscara…er, Miranda leaned back. "What's wrong?"
"Oh god." Andy knew she really should say something else, but she couldn't think of anything else. She leaned to the side of the bed and flipped on the nightstand lamp. Miranda blinked her eyes at the light and looked at Andy.
"What's wrong with you?" she asked.
"Miranda?" Andy said again stupidly.
"Of course…wait. What?" Miranda said, the confusion on her face turning to astonishment. "You didn't know it was me?"
"Uh…" Andy tried to move off of Miranda's lap, but found herself trapped by surprisingly strong arms. "Um…maybe?"
"Maybe?" Miranda asked, appalled. "Maybe? How could you not know it was me?"
"Well, you were all with the costume and the mystery and the perfect accent," Andy defended.
"I am perfect in many things," Miranda said and with the pleasure from Miranda's touch still throbbing between her legs, Andy had to agree with her. "Tell me Andrea, do you often make love to strange women?"
"No," Andy said. "Never, but…"
Andy stopped and looked at Miranda as she tried to control her thoughts. Miranda had never looked more beautiful than she did at this moment, even though she looked ready to tear Andy's head off. Andy knew she had to tread carefully because she didn't want a simple misunderstanding to put a stop to what they had started. Not when she finally had a taste of what she'd wanted for so long.
She pushed back a lock of the wonderful silver hair she had always admired and now thrilled at its softness. "No, I don't," she said. "But I've wanted you for such a long time and tonight, at the masquerade, you reminded me so much of you that I just wanted to…I guess I wanted to make that fantasy a little real. In my mind I wasn't making love to a stranger, I was making love to you."
Miranda looked as if she was struggling to keep hold of her anger. "Well?" Miranda finally asked. "Did reality match your fantasy?"
Andy shook her head and Miranda glared. "No," she whispered, leaning closer. "It far exceeded my expectations." Andy bent in for another kiss and this time, now that she knew she was kissing Miranda and not just a substitute for Miranda, she reveled in it. Apparently Miranda did too because when Andy finally let her go, she had a dazed look on her face. When their eyes met, Andy knew she had been forgiven.
"What are you doing here?" Andy asked, wonderingly. "You're in Los Angeles."
"Does this look like L.A. to you?" Miranda retorted.
Andy rolled her eyes. "And Nigel said you wouldn't be caught dead at a costume party."
"Normally, I would never attend one," Miranda sniffed and then added, "I made an exception."
"You attended an event you hate just to be with me?" Andy asked feeling smug.
"I am finding it hard to remember exactly why I did if you insist on being so infuriating." Before Miranda could continue, Andy stopped her with another kiss. It worked again and Andy thrilled at finally discovering a surefire method of shutting Miranda up.
"So," Andy whispered when they came up for air. "Does this mean you like me as much as I like you?"
"I am naked in your bed in a tiny railroad flat in the Lower East Side," Miranda said. "What do you think?"
"Your cognitive process in the afterglow is fascinating," Miranda said and Andy could see the amusement in Miranda's eyes.
"Will you stay the night?" Andy asked.
"Yes," Miranda replied simply. "I'm in L.A., remember? We have the entire weekend."
Andy thrilled at the idea, but then she bit her lip as something occurred to her. "What about work? I mean…" she broke off. She didn't want to ruin the moment, but she worried anyway.
"We'll figure something out," Miranda said. "It's time you moved on anyway."
"You're firing me?" Andy asked, aghast.
"Of course not," Miranda said, rolling her eyes. "But you're right in that we cannot keep working together. That is, if you wish to continue to be lovers." Miranda quirked an eyebrow at her.
"Oh yes," she breathed and tightened her embrace. "Now that I've got you, I'm not letting you go anytime soon, lady."
"Indeed," Miranda said. "Well, I certainly have always admired your determination. In any case, we'll figure something out."
"All right," Andy agreed. She paused and looked intently into Miranda's eyes.
"What is it?" Miranda asked softly.
"You're a wonder, Miranda Priestly," she answered. "And now that you've taken the mask off, I'm going to enjoy discovering the real woman underneath."
Miranda tilted her head as she examined Andy's face. "I assure you I'll keep you on your toes, Andrea Sachs."
"I know you will," Andy replied with a laugh. "That's part of the fun. And I'm going to love every minute of it."
Miranda's answering smile melted Andy's heart so she did the only thing she could think of. She kissed the beautiful unmasked woman she had finally captured.